kids / spiritual practice

four-thousand is less than five-thousand

My favorite time of day — besides waking up to birds and sunshine at the beginning of it and dozing off to dream adventures at the end — is tea time.

Tea time starts at 8:15 a.m. Unless we still have the remaining bits of lunches to pack and chores to complete, which means most days it actually starts after 8:20 a.m. But we were pretty much on time this morning — I’ve already seen miracles today — and my three kids sat around the kitchen table, all holding a cup of Murchie’s Afternoon tea, each with a spoonful of sugar.

And then we open up my Bible to the book of Mark. We are working our way, ever so slowly, through the entire book. Some days are profound, some day are frustrating or confusing and some days are very ordinary. This is how life is.

We read just one story at a time — whether short or long — and listen for what God is speaking to us. This sounds profound, but it is very simple and ordinary, like all the truly profound things are.

Today we read about how Jesus fed four-thousand people. A couple weeks ago he fed five-thousand men, plus whatever women and children happened to be around, but today he fed four-thousand.

I worry when we read these familiar stories that we will be bored because we already know all there is to know about the story. I tell you, being as smart and spiritual as we are is not without its burdens. But we talked about it, what was the same in this story as the other time Jesus fed people and what was different, and no one was at all bored.

What was different were the numbers and what was the same was the basic situation. Which is also how life is.

Right away a hand popped up and “Well, what God told me in this story…” came out at exactly the same time. They scramble to get these words in, sometimes before they’ve really heard and understood the story. I always make them wait, which is maybe not necessary because God doesn’t always follow the right order either.

And so we heard about frustrating situations at school and how worrying is not our job because it’s God’s job to work things out and how sometimes we forget what God has taught us and so he teaches us again. They are just simple sentences and simple ideas and I don’t always see how they connect with the story, but that’s what they are hearing inside of them and so I can’t argue.

And then we offer a “tweet prayer” — you know, 140 characters or less — just a simple one-sentence thought which is usually an expression of gratitude or request for help.

And in ten minutes, we have finished our tea, we have received some bit of truth, we’ve listened to our souls and what God might be whispering into them, we have responded to that and we have heard each other. These are the greatest things I can set before my children.

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